I'm Nicole DeBoom, founder of Skirt Sports. Twenty years ago, I never imagined that I'd be leading a company, let alone dedicating myself and my company to supporting and inspiring women in our pursuit of happiness through the transformative power of running and fitness. I want to share my path to Skirt Sports and all the other milestones in my life. - I've enjoyed every step of this journey and hope to inspire you on your own life adventure!
I grew up in Downers Grove, IL, playing every sport imaginable, I just could never get enough play time. However, the one sport that stuck was swimming. I felt at home in the water and embraced the beautiful exhaustion that came from pushing my limits day-in and day-out. By the time I was in high school, swimming was practically my life. I didn't realize it at the time, but as I stared at the bottom of the pool for 5-6 hours a day, I was learning important business and mama skills like "how to suffer!" and "the importance of making hard work fun." My dedication paid off and at age 16, I swam the 100m breaststroke in the 1988 Olympic Trials. With the 5th fastest time in the nation, I was recruited to a number of colleges choosing Yale University as my home for the next four years.
After graduating in 1994, I faced what many collegiate athletes face - the "What Now?" syndrome. Not fast enough to swim in the Olympics, there few competitive options for collegiate swimmers. So, I did what many college grads do today, I went home and soul-searched.
While this soul-searching phase didn't lead me to an immediate life-enriching career, it did help me develop a mantra that is core to who I am and the life I've built.
"When my body is fit and strong, my mind is fitter and stronger too."
I knew then, that whatever I did needed to allow me the flexibility to pursue athletic goals, even as an adult. While continuing to explore career options, I started racing triathlons. By chance, I had watched the 1982 coverage of the Hawaii Ironman, as a young woman named Julie Moss crawled across the finish line in complete exhaustion. Instead of grimacing in pain at the sight, my reaction was, "Awesome! I'm totally doing that race someday!"
In 1995 on an airplane to Cancun for the ITU World Championships, a lucky seat assignment introduced me to a handsome, young man and fellow Triathlete, Tim DeBoom. Turns out he thought I wasn't so bad myself, as I married Tim a year later and we pursued the triathlon life together for over a decade.
Tim climbed the ranks and reached legendary status in the sport by winning the Hawaii Ironman World Championships - not once, but TWICE! I became a top American contender in my own right, but as my career progressed, I knew that there was something else for me out there. I just never knew what it might be.
My life changed in December 2003 on what I call my epiphany run. I was jogging down Main Street in Lyons, Colorado, and as I passed the Lyons Soda Fountain, I turned my head and caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window. I was wearing men's black running pants, a poor-fitting black jacket and a beanie that made my head look like a peanut. Three thoughts came to mind.
I kept running and the word pretty became more important as I went. My philosophy is this: If you can do anything that will make you feel better in your training and racing, you should do it. I decided that if I could solve the problems that existed in women's fitness clothing, namely the facts that nothing was cute and nothing fit women's bodies, then I may just be able to spark a revolution.
I ran home and scribbled the word pretty on a piece of paper and start dreaming up ways to start a clothing company. Tim came home and I said to him, "I want to start a clothing company." A pretty big statement to make out loud. He said, "Okayâ€¦ How do you do that?" I said, "Well, you're wearing clothing, and I'm wearing clothing and I see a lot of other people wearing clothing, so someone figured out how to do it. I'm going to figure it out!"
In 2004, while I continued to race professionally I worked on my "Skirt Project." My goal was to create an alternative to the two options women had for their lower bodies on warm weather days: Poor-fitting running shorts that rode up, chafed, and didn't fit 99% of real women's bodies, and skin-tight, shiny, Lycra "bike style" shorts. I was hell-bent on doing something that had never been done. My goal was to create a high-performance Running Skirt!
On September 12, 2004, I pulled on a cute, little, mesh, race-belt skirt for my marathon run in Ironman Wisconsin. History was made that day as I passed all the other women competitors and crossed the line first - wearing the first-ever Skirt prototype in the market!
I incorporated Skirt Sports, Inc three days later, using my prize earnings to get the company off the ground. In early 2005, Skirt Sports successfully introduced this groundbreaking new category at the Freescale Marathon in Austin where we sold 100s of skirts, and launched a revolution!
We started by creating the running skirt, but we quickly grew both our product line and our mission. Experiencing so much joy and success in my life through fitness, my focus quickly became giving women the confidence, strength, and support they need to pursue active lives. We now have a full team at Skirt Sports with this same singular focus, offering a full range of beautiful, athletic clothing events and stories that give women a reason to get out the door, even launching our amazingly inspirational Kick Start program where we give each beginner runner a mentor to help her take those first steps. And we're still evolving!
In December of 2011, one month before turning 40, my life took another turn, as my daughter Wilder Jette DeBoom was born. I am grateful every day that I decided to become a mama. Now more than ever, I understand the importance of being a great role model and showing my girl the power of living a healthy, active life.
While I am still the CEO of Skirt Sports, and intimately involved in every aspect of the business I don't spend as much time in the office, as my amazing team keeps pushing the business forward. I'm often travelling around the country speaking and making appearances to help inspire women in the areas of athletics, healthy living, entrepreneurship and more. I also sit on Boards of other organizations with like-minded values. If you would like to connect with me regarding speaking appearances or other events, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey. Happy Skirting!